The Manchester United of the Premier League era are synonymous with success. As the most decorated club in England and one of the biggest football teams in the world, it would be almost unthinkable to see them caught up in a relegation battle - but this is precisely what happened in the 1970s.
Too Good to Go Down vividly recalls the period with rare archive footage and exclusive interviews with those who moulded the club through this defining era including; Denis Law, Tommy Docherty, Paddy Crerand, Lou Macari, Willie Morgan, Alex Stepney, Stuart Pearson, Sammy McIlroy, Martin Edwards, Gordon Hill, Jim McCalliog, Cliff Butler and Patrick Barclay.
The film’s release comes as interest in this period of the club’s history increases with the imminent release of a book into the story by acclaimed football author Wayne Barton.
With the resignation of Sir Matt Busby in 1969, Manchester United lost the man who had forged the modern club, winning five First Division titles, two FA Cups and one European Cup. Wilf McGuiness and Frank O’Farrell tried, but failed to replicate the glory of the Busby era and Manchester United slid towards the relegation zone.
In December 1972, as United languished near the foot of the table, Tommy Docherty resigned from his job as the head-coach of Scotland to take the reins at Old Trafford and lead United to survival. An ageing team and tensions in the dressing room, however, meant that the club succumbed to relegation the following season.
Despite the anger of players and fans alike, relegation proved to be a catalyst, and Docherty was able to bring his team back to the First Division at the first time of asking, sowing the seeds for a new era at Old Trafford.
John Cooper Clarke, ‘the bard of Salford’ and Manchester United fan, takes viewers through the difficulty of the post Busby years, the story of Docherty’s reign and why hitting rock bottom in 1974 was the only way for Manchester United to discover a new identity.
Highlights of the film include:
Tommy Docherty on being sacked: “You do what you think is right at the time and I was just amazed at what I lost my job for - it was nothing to do with football at all.”
Denis Law on scoring for Manchester City against his former club: “It was a fluke. I had no idea where the ball was when I scored the goal. I didn’t celebrate anyway.”
Patrick Barclay on the release of George Best: “That was the beginning of the rebuilding of Manchester United. Getting rid of one of the best players in their history.”
- Jim McCalliog on arriving at United during the season they were relegated: “The atmosphere you could cut it with a knife. There didn’t seem to be a leader in the dressing room and there seemed to be a lot of cliques.”
Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “Too Good to Go Down is a vivid and thought-provoking examination of a defining but rarely discussed period of Manchester United’s history.
The film is sure to intrigue sports fans of all ages, providing a fresh perspective on the club’s recent history. Too Good to Go Down continues BT Sport Films’ strong pipeline of original films this season. Brian O’Driscoll’s exploration of the Irish national rugby team in Shoulder to Shoulder, and, Brothers in Football, the story of forgotten footballing heroes and an amateur side’s pilgrimage to honour them, have both received widespread acclaim.”
The film is produced and directed for BT Sport by Tom Boswell, with Sally Brown editor and executive producer, with Jamie Hindhaugh and Barry Andrews as commissioning editors. It is the latest in the award-winning BT Sport Films series which includes: Shoulder to Shoulder, No Hunger in Paradise and Golazzo: The Football Italia Story.
In addition to acclaimed original films, BT Sport is the sole home of the UEFA Champions League, continues with Premier League coverage, is offering more matches than before from the Emirates FA Cup and continues with exclusive coverage of MotoGP.
BT Sport is also the home of domestic and European club rugby, while boxing fans can look forward to a top-class line up of fight nights featuring boxers from the Frank Warren stable.